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LA House Bans Using CellPhones In Cars

Posted on Apr 23, 2008 in Legislation, Local Issues, Traffic

This week, a bill was passed in the Louisiana House of Representatives that bans talking on handheld cellphones (and text messaging) when you're driving.  This isn't law yet -- it still has to meet with Senate approval. Expert testimony from the Highway Safety Commission estimated that 2,282 car accidents with 10 fatalities were caused by wireless communications devices in 2006.  And, the proposed law's author (Rep. Austin Badon from New Orleans) says it's not that big a deal - for $9 you can get a gizmo that converts the handheld cellphone to hands-free in your car. The law is controversial - and advocates for and against are rallying their followers to contact their state senators and let their opinions be heard. What do the scientists report?  Well, studies have found drivers talking on cellphones up to 10 minutes before a car crash were 4 times more likely to be in an accident.  However, these numbers don't change from using an handheld or a handsfree cellphone -- according to the statistics, talking on the phone while driving ups the likelihood that you'll be involved in a car accident fourfold -- so does this proposal really solve the problem?  Shouldn't the law ban talking on cellphones while driving, regardless of handheld or handsfree? And, what do all this statistics and legislative arguments mean to a car accident victim?  Well, if you've got an attorney doing his homework, he might subpoena the cellphone records of the drivers, check their chattime for the 10 minutes prior to the car crash, and argue that this impacts the proximate cause -- i.e., who is legally responsible for the accident and its insuing damages.�

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